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Mar 02, 2013

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About This Project

Our main research goal is to isolate and identify the chemical or biological agents that protect the earthworm egg capsules from harmful fungal infections.

Earthworms are diverse soil organisms found in fertile soils worlwide, except Antarctica. We study the interactions and benefits of microorganisms that live inside earthworms. In my lab, we work with a common composting worm Eisenia fetida, a.k.a. the red wiggler. These little guys are amazing with the capacity to degrade paper, wood shavings, grass, leaves and food scraps. They also resist infections. The compost pile is teeming with potentially harmful microbes, including fungi and protozoans that could infect and kill either the adult earthworms or their eggs.

The earthworms deposit their egg capsules directly into the soils or compost, and there they develop to hatching with no additional protection. If we cure them of their beneficial bacteria the capsules become overgrown with fungi and do not hatch. This indicates there are bacteria in or on the capsules producing antifungal compounds protecting the eggs.

With this funding we will concentrate, isolate and identify the chemicals with antifungal activity.

More Lab Notes From This Project

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